Whilst it’s essential that everyone who is able to stays at home while we weather this coronavirus outbreak, there are still ways to take care of and appreciate trees from the comfort of your own home.
The Tree Council has gathered a few ideas inspired by suggestions from its tree wardens Ian Hopcraft, Dave Ellwand and Simon Ambrose.
- Enjoy a tree meditation
Locate the tree nearest your house. Maybe it’s the branches of a street tree outside your window. It may be a box hedge in your front garden. Carefully (and observing all social distancing guidelines) take time observing it. What is the nature of its bark? How tall is it? Is it coming into leaf? Do you know what species of tree it is? Are the branches swaying slightly in the breeze? Is the trunk in sun or shadow? For a mindful five minutes, give the tree your attention. When you find yourself distracted, gently pull yourself back. Let this meditation refresh you, and symbolise your appreciation of all trees, everywhere.
- Get planning for future events
Take advantage of this pause in usual events to think and plan ahead for tree planting. For example, this might be a good time to do online checks for overhead and underground services near potential tree planting sites.
- Stay connected through social media
Pick up the phone, use social media or explore video conferencing to exchange ideas or advise on tree matters. There are some free, easy-to-use video conferencing software out there – you might try Zoom or HouseParty.
- Learn more about trees
There are some fantastic resources available online which can help you further your knowledge of trees. Pick up a book perhaps, and get a taster of Jonathan Drori’s Around The World in 80 Trees
- Check up on your local trees
If you go outside to take your daily dose of exercise, use this opportunity for observation of local trees in sparsely populated locations.You can make a note of trees which you might return to and provide a little tree care once the quarantine is lifted, or areas which could benefit from a tree or hedgerow when it’s possible to get planting again. Remain two metres away from others and wash your hands for at least twenty seconds when you return home.
- Help Forest Research with their vital urban tree mapping
Forest Research are still inviting armchair citizen scientists to join them in creating a urban tree canopy cover map for the UK.
- Tree-spot online
Make use of assets such as Google Earth, on-line photos/records and Street Maps to assess amenity values and make observations of species, size, health etc.
- Provide your own trees with tree care
If you have trees on your own land, and it is safe for you to do so, now is a fantastic time to check up on trees you have planted, clearing back weeds to a radius of half a metre. Only do this alone or with members of your own household – do not gather or share equipment with others. Visit gov.uk for the latest government advice.
- Look out for the box caterpillar on any box shrubs you may have
Box tree caterpillars feed on the leaves of box shrubs, cover the foliage with webbing and can completely defoliate box plants.Tiny caterpillars overwinter in the shrub and come out in force in the Spring. Advice on identifying and controlling them can be found on the RHS website.
We hope these tips help stave off any quarantine blues. And remember – the most important thing to do during this time is #StayHome, take care of yourself and your loved ones.